Commercial Fishing Vessel Electronic Trip Reporting Pilot Study

With the move to sector management in the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan (as reflected in Amendment 16 to the Plan), the need for catch data increases in both quality and timelines. This will result in new requirements for the timeliness of data flowing to NMFS’s Northeast Regional Office (NERO) and Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC). At the same time, groundfish sectors are developing technical capabilities to electronically monitor their vessels’ fishing activity and to track progress toward their annual catch entitlements (ACE).

The convergence of these two factors makes this a crucial time to test the feasibility of giving vessels the option to submit their vessel trip reports (VTRs) electronically rather than on paper. In addition to NMFS’s Fisheries Logbook Data Recording Software (FLDRS) and web-portal data entry system, there are other commercial products available to vessel captains. As these systems develop, it is critical to ensure they are compatible with NMFS’s regulatory reporting requirements. These are specific to the needs under sector development, but also to the general reporting system for vessels. Priority for this project will be those vessels that are anticipated to join a sector. However, any system developed must be applicable to a broad range of fisheries throughout the northeast.

The primary goal of this pilot study is to collaborate with sectors and NMFS to test the feasibility of adopting electronic solutions for sector reporting requirements across a representative range of sector vessels in the northeast groundfish fleet. The pilot study will be designed to test the range of electronic logbook products and the NEFSC’s webbased data entry to identify obstacles to their use by captains, and ensure their compatibility with NMFS’s data collection systems.